Estate planning for unmarried couples offers much of the same goals as estate planning for couples who are married. There are differences, however, and this article will explain them.
Unmarried partners typically have no requirement that they leave at least something to their significant other. This differs from married couples, who in most states, cannot completely cut their spouse out of an inheritance.
A will for a single person (or a living trust in some cases) can list a non-spouse as a beneficiary of the estate, along with other blood relatives like parents and siblings. In a case where an unmarried couple is creating wills, those wills will not affect disposition of jointly owned homes and accounts. That is because assets held in joint tenancy pass to the other tenant (the significant other in this case) when the other tenant passes away. This can complicate matters where a couple is not married but owns assets jointly like a married couple would own them.
Obviously, an unmarried couple completing an estate plan would probably each need their own separate advice and St. Peters, Missouri estate planning lawyer to represent to property plan for jointly held assets.
One other thing to consider is that setting up beneficiaries could be a mistake for an unmarried couple. An example would be to list each other as beneficiaries for life insurance. In most cases, if there is a breakup and the beneficiary is never changed, that long forgotten ex-boyfriend could end up receiving a windfall from being listed as the beneficiary on an insurance policy or bank account. In most states, these beneficiary designations are considered contractual and unaffected by later failure in the relationship.
An unmarried couple can also list each other as healthcare and financial power of attorney in case of incapacity. Each person in the relationship should consider how well they know the financial aptitude and healthcare attitudes of their significant other, especially where the couple keeps their finances separate. They should also list alternates in place which would cover a situation where there is a breakup subsequent to the documents being created. When these rules get confusing, it’s wise to turn to an estate planning attorney O’Fallon, MO trusts for help.
Unmarried couples should finally remember that they must do estate planning if they want to ensure their non-marital partner receives something from their estate. The heirs of an unmarried person who dies intestate (without a will) are normally siblings and parents. So estate planning is a necessity for unmarried couples who want to leave all or at least some of their estate to their significant other.
If you are not married and want complete an estate plan, an experienced St. Peters estate planning lawyer can help.
Thanks to our friends and contributors at Legacy Law Center for their insights into estate planning.